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FMA: The Brotherhood Diaries – Episode 40

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode 40

Ani-Gamers staff writer Ink contributes a weekly column in which he examines the differences between the original Fullmetal Alchemist and its re-telling, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. To read previous entries, click here.

Watch Episode 40 – The Dwarf Inside the Flask

Continuing to expand Van Hohenheims back-story, FMA2 tells a tale of No. 23, a slave who inadvertently contributes to the birth of the first(?*) homunculus. This dwarf (little one) in a flask, in recognition of the slaves blood connection to its own existence, then gives the human a name (initially Theophrastus Bombastus… then VH) and edifies the ignorant pupil to become eligible enough to study under an alchemist. The first part of that is an interesting notion of Creation naming (honoring) its Creator, which warrants a revisiting of the series to see if this has been implemented elsewhere, by whom, and for what purposes. The stress on class difference knowledge and learning as a means out of the rigors of slave (menial physical) labor and into a comfortable lifestyle also continues to separate FMA2 from FMA1, which mainly only focuses on interracial and emotional conflicts.

Whereas FMA1 only vaguely indicates how long Hohenheim had been alive and to what degree he had affected its Armestrian history, FMA2 directly points at a specific period in history (if we draw parallels to his namesake in our world) and shows how Xerxes is brought down. Mind you, FMA1 also referenced an ancient town that disappeared overnight, but not much was ever done to give it any concreteness. That disappearance, while a different spell than ever seen in FMA1, is done in grand fashion. Arms and the eye of the truth are similar, but the aftermath motionless bodies lying in the street where they fell at the moment of the spells invocation offers a greater Romantic quality than FMA1s Philosophers Stone spell, which only resulted in a big red flash, a halved Lt. Col. Archer, and a vacant lot which was once a town.

Following the aftermath, the reason behind Van Hohenheims twin is explained. Id like to take this opportunity to apologize for everything I said about the possibility of an evil twin. I should have known FMA2 would not have been so base a storyteller as to rely on such clichs. The connection, if youll pardon the pun, draws on the blood tie between homunculus and Slave No. 23 and is far better conceived than I could have hoped. It sets up a grand possibility for emotional conflict as well as an inevitable final physical confrontation. Hohenheims reaction to learning the nature of his newly granted immortality, half of all the souls used as ingredients for the spell, also serves as a parallel to Eds pacifist nature and downright paralyzing fear of killing.

Another interesting similarity with FMA1 is that Mustang still doesnt believe in homunculi. Why this is, I cannot be sure. At least in FMA1, Mustang never really crossed paths with a homunculus directly until the very end of the series. This seemed to validate reports that were being fed to him throughout the series and gave earnest justification for our not fully trusting him to fully trust the brothers Elric. In short, it was a well-written bit of believable cynicism. FMA2s Mustang, however, directly faced and tried to burn down a homunculus (Greed). So why does he say, theres no such thing in surprise when he decodes Hawkeyes message concerning Selim Bradley? Its a chink in the armor of the story, but a very minimal one.

Finally, whereas FMA1 made Izumi to suffer physically right up until the end as penance for her sacrifice and homunculus birthing, FMA2 uses Philosopher Stone Van Hohenheim to make her breathe a little easier by rearranging her internal organs so that she doesnt fall just yet. Im greatly looking forward to seeing how and to what capacity FMA2 plans on using her.

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